Published Jan 18, 2017Fjaak are a wunderkind techno trio from Berlin. They've acquired a lot of analog gear (synths, drum machines, samplers, etc.) in the last few years, and have put it to good use on their debut album. They achieve a warm and classic feel here, while also re-discovering and re-imagining the genre in their own way.
"Spnd Ballett" opens the album with a flurry of ethereal synth notes, played quickly but reverbed out for a trippy mood before a loose drum and bass groove drops with a thudding kick drum that goes right for the jugular. "Sixteen Levels" follows with a syncopated sort of progressive two-step beat, and then "Wolves" brings in a driving, four-on-the-floor techno beat, but across all three of these opening tracks, the neck-snapping bass drum never lets up.
"Snow" is a gentle reprieve, with more elegant synths fluttering past for a peaceful moment before a laid-back and funky breakbeat comes in. "Offline" features bell-like tones, evoking a more energetic Pantha du Prince.
The second half of the album is mostly dance floor-ready bangers, with the only misstep being the moody "Tomorrow," which builds mildly to no release. The final track, a collaboration with their Monkeytown label bosses Modeselektor, is a shuffling, groovy jam with some ambient synth padding that verges on the transcendent.
One area that lacks a little imagination is the melodic material; it's sparse, simple and repetitive. This still works for the club-ready bang of this album, but if they can turn the same attention to detail they gave their electronic rhythm section on this album towards greater melody and harmony, they'll grow leaps and bounds for their next album. (Monkeytown)